Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Calbee Seaweed & Salt Potato Chips


Potato chips are something I normally don't purchase. Not that I don't like them, but they're like french fries in that if they are around, I will consume them all at once. My husband actually picked this up at Mitsuwa and I was very proud since he picked a not very common flavor- seaweed & salt.

(If they seriously consider this bag "Mega" than I am sure the Japanese would be amazed/horrified since this is pretty much the size of the "grab bag" Lays at convenience stores)

I was a little concerned with all the english on the package (minus the kana which simply say potato chips and "norishio" or seaweed), the whole back was in English and it says 'imported from Hong Kong'. However, Calbee is indeed a Japanese company and you can even find their "Saya-endo" snow prea crisps in the salad topping section of most American supermarkets that I've been in.

I've had Calbee chips before and they are typically good if not remarkable. I can say the same for this flavor. It's good but I would have no idea it was seaweed if the package did not say so. Besides ingrediants such as "bonito flakes" and "powder cod roe", the most I got from it was a hint of that intangible umami sensation.

On a side note, one time, long before I consistently enjoyed Japanese snacks, I tried a Frito Lay concoction from Japan called R=Restricted. It's logo was a spy silhouette from what I recall. It was also the most amazing chip I've every had in my life. Ever. Simply it was like a Cheeto with wasabi powder rather than cheese-food but it was oh so much more- it was an epiphany. Since then I've searched everywhere for it but even the vast internet proves dry. If anyone ever comes across it, I will be forever grateful.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Meiji Chocolate Mint Gum


Happy almost Thanksgiving!

This week I tried something INCREDIBLE. (I reserve caps only for the most exciting of situations- so be prepared).

Meiji Chocolate Mint Gum.

Yes that's right. Chocolate mint gum. Now, I don't know who doesn't like those flavors to begin with, but in a lasting gum form from Meiji? Heavenly. Now, my curiousity was certainly peaked when I saw the package but often when I have chocolate flavored things that aren't actually chocolate, they taste more like Tootsie Rolls. I couldn't be more wrong.

The package describes the outer layer as chocolate mint soft candy and the inside as chocolate gum. However, it tastes like a chocolate mint mind-blowing explosion of every yummy York peppermint patty/Lindt ball/Ghiardelli square TRUFFLE ever in your mouth. I could not believe I was chewing gum and not an actual candy. This is some Willy Wonka magic, my friends. I cannot express to you enough how blown away I was by this gum.

(Your mind will not be able to comprehend the fact that this is not a fancy truffle for a few seconds FYI)

Now, I don't really endorse any website in particular to purchase treats from since I purchase all of mine in a physical store but this is the only place I found it on the internets.


This particular treat I purchased outside my usual haunts. I took a great overnight trip to Brooklyn/Manhattan and buzzed by a few of the Japanese convenience stores near Bryant Park, in particular a newer one called Sunrise Mart. I believe it was only $1.49, which was surprising!

Have a safe holiday!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Spaghetti Sandwhich


Not a full post but I couldn't wait to tell you all about the spaghetti sandwich I had today at Mitsuwa. Whenever I go for a meal, I typically get something really Japanese-y of course...unagi-don, soba, etc etc. However, there is a stall there called Italian Tomato which has the Japanese-fied version of some of your Italian favorites. Spaghetti with cod roe, spaghetti with eggs, you know normal Italian/Italian American specialties. I've always been curious about the Japanese interpretations of dishes familiar to me and so I begrudgingly walked past the ramen noodle and yakisoba stalls to pick up something funky. Italian Tomato was really really crowded so I settled for a roll filled with spaghetti and sauce from the bakery next door, St. Honore.

Now, who the heck goes- "You know what would be great? A starchy roll filled with starchy noodles covered in tomato sauce- awesome.". I have no idea what possesses someone to 1. do that and 2. eat it often enough to make it a fairly popular dish.

The result? It tastes EXACTLY what you think a roll filled wth mass produced spaghetti and sauce would taste like. It wasn't awful or anything but it was odd and I got about 3/4 of the way through before abandoning it for my delicious UFO (like a...sweet roll which some cream in the center and a cruncy sweet topping- delicious but does not remind me of UFOs at all).

Mitsuwa trip= some really good posts on the way!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Meiji Praline & Macadamia Cookie


I will make no secret of my love for Meiji products. One of my first Japanese snacks was Meiji's mushroom shaped chocolates. They were incredible...rich chocolate, crunchy biscuits...I was in love. However, Meiji products' quality reflects in the price and I am incredibly cheap. On my last trip to Asian Food Market I was pleasantly surprised to see these Meiji chocolates on sale, it was in my basket nigh immediately.

They are a praline flavored treat and consist of a nutty biscuit covered with a cone (acorn shaped?) of white and milk chocolate. They were delicious, of course. The biscuit is a touch salty which pairs great with the chocolate covering it. I was also impressed with the fact they use sugar and a small list of ingredients instead of like 50 chemicals. Perhaps it's just me, but I feel like that may be part of the reason they taste so good. I could definitely each a ton of these in a sitting.

Now, I paid $1.98 for them on sale and they are normally $3.99. There are only 8 individually wrapped treats in the box which is awful on the value front. However, it's certainly quality over quantity for this product.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Coris Ramune Whistle Candy


Whew been a buuuuuusy week but nothing a few neat snacks can't help. Today I tried Coris brand's Ramune Whistle Candy. This particular flavor is mixed fruit though it comes in a standard ramune flavor.

I'm not going to lie to you folks...sometimes I pick a snack for it's quirkiness or because I like a certain flavor, but I picked up this pack of candy because I really wanted to know what was in the little box. I miss that about American snacks and food...no cool prizes come in anything anymore (I'm looking at you Cracker Jacks). We'll get to the box in a bit...

(Omachabako!- I don't actually know what that means though- sorry!)

There are 8 candy pieces in the pack and they are a pretty nice size apiece. The flavor is a generic fruity flavor which is fine. The surprise with these guys is that they melt in your mouth after about 20 seconds. I mean really melt, like hard candy one second and chalk the next. It was ok, I was not too into the texture once they melted.

It is actually called whistle candy for a reason. If you blow through the hole, it does make a whistling sound- kinda cool!

NOW the box....

A little blue top! I was a little disappointed at first, it seems a little cheap (I guess it's a $1.59 imported candy but whatever) but it is actually a really good top. Buying this for the surprise was assuredly the best decision I made that day.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Power Squash


We've got a great drink here today! I knew as soon as I saw Power Squash soft drink that I would be trying it out. How could you not be charmed by the Dragon Ball Kai characters showing off their power on the can? This stuff must be magic.

I'm not really knowledgeable on anything Dragon Ball so I'll be hard pressed to give you character names but there were three different can designs that I could see. I picked this one since I'm pretty sure he's the main character.

Another reason I bought this is because Pokka is a pretty good beverage company. I routinely purchase their cans of unsweetened green tea.

Upon further inspection of the can at home I figured it was an energy drink since it boasts various B vitamins and is well...called Power Squash. The taste confirms that. The highlighter yellow liquid is carbonated and tastes like some radioactive combination of bubble gum, cotton candy and other chemicals that are most certainly not conceived by mother Earth. According to a friend of mine it tastes a bit like Monster energy drink but worse. I'm by no means a connosseur of energy drinks (I think they'd make my heart explode) so I'll take her word on it.

This can was expensive- $2.99, which I suppose for an energy drink imported from Japan, it's not that bad. It's cool and gimmicky with the Dragon Ball characters (and by Jove, I love gimmicky things) but I would not purchase it again.

I got a comment asking where one could find this beverage and I actually came across an online shop. Now, I have not ordered from his site so I in no way endorsing it but they do actually have it.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Befco Bakauke Cheese Crackers

Aaanndd.....we're back! My heart leapt with joy and the sight of the light blinking on my router this morning.

I have seen the little characters of Befco's Bakauke crackers before but this is the first time I've picked them up. These crackers are called senbei, which are a Japanese rice cracker. I've had senbei before and I've never really like them- they are sort of flavorless and plastic-y and so I was interested in trying this popular brand to challenge my prejudice.

While there are many flavors of these crackers, I decided to stick with cheese to be safe. The package boasts there are five cheese flavors in the senbei including emmental (swiss), cheddar, gouda, camembert (lol...fancy..) and edam (I had to search for this one...the katakana says "edamu" and I was like o.O what is that?! apparently...it's something called edam which I've never heard of).

FYI...the little banana looking guys are senbei boyfriend and girlfriend Barin (girl) and Borin (boy). ALSO the back says Befco stands for Beika Frontier Company WOW (sorta reminds me of Nabisco...National Biscuit Company)

There are two senbei per package and 9 packages in the bag. They are packed nicely with a plastic tray which resulted in only a few packages being cracked. These beauties cost me $2.99 at Asian Food Market.

The designs on them are traditional-looking Barins and Borins in some Shinto-looking garb. They're actually kinda cool.

On the positive side...they are very low in calories for snack food, only 44.9 kcals per 2 cracker package. On the negative side...they still taste awful. There is still the plastic texture and flavor but with a emmental/gouda/cheddar/camembert/edam after flavor. Anyone want the rest? I think I will be tossing them...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Source!

I am still without consistent access to the world (aside from work...shhhh...) so I figured, instead of making you wait and suffer I'd talk about where I find my Japanese snacks.

My main haunt is "Asian Food Market" (creative, eh?) in North Plainfield NJ. It's the size of a regular super market and is filled with equally awesome as frightning foods.

When you're not there for Japanese snacks they have a wide array of delicious buns and fresh fish in tanks (don't worry- they chop off the head for you)

They really do have an extensive variety of snacks, drinks, ramen, spices, etc from Japan. A lot of their stock is from China, Vietnam, Thailand, and other various asian countries.

My not-as-common source is Mitsuwa in Edgwater, NJ. It's not nearly as close but it is 100% Japanese. This place is the be all end all for anyone interested in Japanese foods and products in America. When you first enter there is a small marketplace of food stalls and vendors. The other half is the supermarket. Outside of the main building there are a few stores including a Japanese bookstore, hobby shop and cosmetic store. The hobby shop (I don't know what else to call it...it's full of toys and housewares) has futons and things expressly unique to Japan.

This place is incredible and worth the trip on occasion. Nothing is better than eating authentic soba, overlooking Manhattan with a few melon pan in your shopping bag.

If anyone seems interested I will do a little more in-depth exploration of Mitsuwa in the future.

Hopefully, we'll be back on topic ASAP!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

We will resume shortly...

Playful spooks have interrupted our normal blog postings...

Due to the suuuuper destructive snowstorm I've been without power/internet for a few days. Power is back...but I don't know when I will have consistent internet (no more than a couple of days, please Comcast?). I've already got some snacks sampled and photos prepped so expect some great posts soon!